BMPCC 6K Review & Footage – Five Reasons to Like the Pocket 6K

August 22nd, 2019

The new Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K has already started to ship (although it’s not so clear in what quantities), but based on the excitement and interest in this camera, it was important for us to put it through its paces as quickly as possible. In our previous article and video I’ve already highlighted the similarity and differences between the new camera and its sibling, the BMPCC 4K, and now it was about time to go out and create some nice images with it. 

BMPCC 6K camera

Blackmagic Design was proud to release a “Pocket” camera with an APS-C sensor and a Canon EF mount. Are those two reasons enough to make one buy the new camera? From the feedback we have been getting from our audience, the answer is apparently yes! Combining robust acquisition codec(s) with an attractive price makes people “forgive” some lacking features that would be useful.

It has been a while since I shot with the older Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K (watch Nino’s extensive review of it here) and being out and about with the new 6K version reminded me of what I liked when first filming with the Pocket 4K. I was also reminded why for me as a documentary filmmaker, it’s a mixed bag in many ways. But first things first, so let’s start on all the positive notes, and there are quite a few.

BMPCC 6K – Five Reasons to Love it

1- Picture quality: Let me start with the obvious: Blackmagic has proven again that one of the main advantages of their cameras (including the new Ursa Mini G2 and the BMPCC 6K) is its color science. The picture looks organic, “film-like” and has its own identity. Now with the addition of 6K, this is even more noticeable. The footage coming out of this camera is simply beautiful!

2- Recording Codecs: Blackmagic Design is the ONLY manufacturer who gives the filmmaking community a budget tool to record with proper codecs internally. If there is anything I’m learning to dislike in our industry it’s H264/H265 and external recorders. Both are highly hyped and could be completely avoided if manufacturers took the initiative to do so, because alternatives exist. By the way, licensing ProRes is free (although needs Apple’s approval) and I have yet to understand what makes the camera makers stick with H264/H265 when the possibility to improve is there. (I’m not referring to ProRes RAW, where things gets a bit more complicated due to RED’s patents on some elements related to the encoding process.) Adding a robust recording codec will instantly save us money, will make us carry less accessories, and on top, will allow much faster and smoother editing. Blackmagic Design went a step further and in this camera (like in the BMPCC 4K) included their newly developed Blackmagic RAW codec.

3- Camera Operating System: I already mentioned it in previous posts and will continue to advocate it whenever possible: Blackmagic Design offers the best camera operating system I came across in recent times. It’s easy to understand, it’s logical to operate and there is no need to dive into ocean of pages and sub pages to find what you are looking for.

3- Resolution and Frame Rates: Personally, I think that the resolution race is a bit unnecessary, but in this price range, let it be. I’m one of those who is happy to have good internal 4K material. For now, recorded file sizes, overall picture quality and delivery (who has a TV with more than 4K resolution??) make absolute sense in 4K, especially if you are a documentary filmmaker like me. (As opposed to SFX professionals who might appreciate the higher resolution). HOWEVER, having said that, recording at a resolution greater than 4K can result in having a better 4K master – so in this case, the 6K (and it is beautiful!), might be a useful thing to have.

With regards to frame rates, it is nice to see that the camera allows for a lot of flexibility in order to unleash creativity to its full potential or help with potential client requests.

4- Choice of Recording Media: This is one of my favourites: This camera (Like the BMPCC 4K), allows internal recording to SD and CFast cards, or externally to SSD. Indeed not all the mentioned recording media options bare the same recording possibilities and some impose limitations when attempting to film at higher frame rates. Nevertheless, having this flexibility of course helps with accommodating different needs and budgets. (Don’t forget that using the SSD option will eat the internal battery even faster – but more on battery life further down.)

5- Price: When it comes to value for money, this new camera gives an excellent fight to even more expensive cameras.

BMPCC 6K – Four Reasons to Doubt it

1- Cinema camera? I’ve deliberately chosen to start with this point. Ask 5 people what a “cinema camera” is and I bet you will be getting 10 different answers. In all honesty, I couldn’t care less about the word “cinema” in the camera title (The same goes for “Pocket”)…. If it does what it supposed to do and does it well, BRAVO! The way I look at it, the word “cinema” allows Blackmagic Design to elegantly avoid the subject of much necessary features like continuous autofocus and internal stabilisation altogether. (Maybe they would say, “It’s a cinema camera Johnnie, so why are you whining about those missing features ….”)

Nice resolution and sharp, but not good in direct sunlight: the LCD screen.

2- Big fixed LCD screen: The ones who are following my filmmaking work and article writing know that I’m already with one leg in the grave, meaning, the hair that once used to be on my head is now happily growing on my shoulders.  So how is this connected to the camera’s LCD screen? Well, as an old fashioned guy, give me a good EVF instead of a huge LCD and make me happy! This screen, as much as it is good for indoor menu navigation, is a complete nightmare to operate outdoors in bright sunlight. I wish Blackmagic Design would have considered making a “Cinema Pocket EVF”. An accessory that can easily be connected to this camera, maybe when being powered externally, so power consumption isn’t becoming even worse.

A necessity for me: a proper EVF on the camera.

3- Autofocus and In-Body Stabilisation System:  Yes, I mentioned it before, now it deserves its own dedicated few lines. Our production world is constantly changing and what was great before might not be good enough anymore. Good autofocus and in-body stabilisation systems are now far from being a luxury. They are becoming a necessity! The BMPCC 6K body size “shouts” mobility, so improvement is needed to make it truly portable. I’ll dare taking it a step farther and write that during my current shoot (just like with the BMPCC 4K before), I felt that I’m compromising on some of my shots and skipping what I really wanted to do, because the camera couldn’t do some of the things I needed it to do. In other words, I was working for the camera instead of it working for me, and it was always related to lacking continuous autofocus and the non-existent in-body stabiliser. This has NOTHING to do with its ability to produce beautiful images or shine when a certain shooting style is being implemented. It is about feeling limited when greater usability is needed (and offered by cameras competing at a similar size).

4- Camera Lens Mount: For me, the choice of camera lens mount is odd and brilliant at the same time: Brilliant, because Blackmagic Design has experience with this mount from earlier on (URSA Mini), and for some of us, the EF mount offers the opportunity to use widely available lenses. On the other hand, it’s also an odd choice because this mount is completely outdated, even to the point that Canon themselves deserted it already by introducing the RF Mount for their mirrorless cameras. Not only that: As Canon stopped delivering mirrorless cameras that are appealing to many filmmakers (cameras that don’t compromise on good quality video), many of us moved on, sold our Canon equipment and invested in Sony, FUJIFILM or Panasonic. A modern short flange lens mount would have allowed users to easily adapt many of the (EF) lenses we already (or still) have, or, in some cases, even use a Metabones Speed Booster to get an even wider field-of-view, which would give this camera with an APS-C sensor full-frame image aesthetics.

6K Frame Grab – click for full 6K resolution image

BMPCC 6K – In the Field

High temperatures, light rain, dust, kids and horses. Facing it all, the camera performed very well! Additionally, no sign of overheating was spotted. The redesigned ventilation chamber proved to do a good job. Now, regarding resolution, frame rates and compression method, I decided to use Blackmagic RAW, 6K 2.4:1 .(6144×2560) resolution at 25p frame rate. (Constant bitrate was set on 5:1.) For slow-motion (120fps), I chose to film in 2.8K 17:9, 2868×1512 (crop factor of 3.388x). In order to get the cleanest possible image I took advantage of the dual ISO functionality of the camera and used ISO 400 for the outdoor shots and 3200 for indoor. A side note: The camera can record at a higher resolution (6144×3456), at a better compression (3:1) and even at a higher data rate (Constant Quality “Q0”), but, for this project and the number of recording media cards I had, the settings I chose to go with were sufficient.

When it comes to lenses, I was surprised to see how limited the selection of Canon EF lenses at my disposal was. (I used to have so many more ….) So in order to cover different focal lengths and different shooting scenarios I went with a SIGMA 18-35mm (as alway, a beautiful, fast and sharp lens), a Canon 70-200mm f/4 IS, and a Canon 24mm EF-S f/2.8. Please don’t laugh, this lightweight pancake EF-S lens (modified at the back to fit the camera EF mount), proved to be good enough for handheld filming. The camera cage was from 8Sinn (fits perfectly – check our recent extensive BMPCC 4K Cage Shootout here in case you missed it)! For monitoring the image I used my Zacuto Gratical EVF. As for recording media, I used Angelbird’s AV Pro CF CFast 2.0 cards. Maybe not the cheapest, but very reliable. When it comes to powering the camera, I used a bunch of original Canon LP-E6 batteries and that was just OK. I had enough of those to use and a place to charge when they got empty. Sound was recorded in camera and I’m pleased to say it is very clear and clean. (When using the camera’s internal mics there is some additional noise/hum, but for this mini documentary I used only an external mic for sound.

Unfortunately and as you can see, during this project I had no chance to record scenes in low light conditions, but from a quick test I conducted at the office, the camera did surprisingly well! We might revisit lowlight capabilities in later more extensive tests with the camera.

During my shoot, lighting conditions kept changing. Not ideal for the film itself but great for the test… Nice to see how the camera and codec are coping with highlights. I also put Katharina (the owner of the riding school) against the open grey sky just in order to see if that’s indeed possible to stretch the dynamic range quite a bit – there was still lots of detail in the skies after post production. What you can also notice from the video above: at times, I was struggling to keep my subjects in focus. I’m not sure why. Either I’m getting old, or maybe my Zacuto EVF is losing its juvenility, or, 6K is 6K, meaning, no excuses here when you don’t nail focus 100%. Either you are in focus or you are not….

So if I have to summarize my field experience with the camera, I can say it is like driving an electric car. You love many aspects of it yet at the same time must look closely at your mileage at all times (actually, battery levels). In addition, I felt like I should always be aware of the camera’s media consumption when filming in 6K. Both battery consumption and the hunger for storage with this camera need to be properly managed and planned for when shooting with this camera.

Not directly related to the camera but important to mention here: it was the first time that I used Nexto DI NPS-10 for backing up some of the material. It is new, very intuitive and working extremely well! A full review will be coming soon.

6K Frame Grab – Click for full resolution 6K image

Editing the footage

You need to be aware that there’s no 6K recording option in ProRes: 6K can be recorded in-camera using Blackmagic RAW exclusively, and 4K can be recorded also in ProRes codecs. I am not sure if it’s technical limitation or if there’s a marketing reason behind it. (“Forcing” people to edit 6K RAW footage in Resolve only?) I don’t know. The data rate might have gotten out of hand with ProRes in 6K though, so we guess that’s the reason behind it.

To my knowledge, no other editing platform can currently support Blackmagic RAW, with the exception of Adobe Premiere Pro. Yes, you heard it right, and it is not because of Adobe being so fast in adopting this RAW recording format. There is a way to edit Blackmagic RAW on Premiere, but in order to do so, you will need to use BRAW Studio from Autokroma. Windows and Mac are both supported and I’ve tried it and it is working like a charm! (The best $30 you can spend if you are editing in Premiere).

Conclusion

The Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 6K is a great technical achievement and offers amazing value for money. Don’t forget that you will also get a full two-seat license of DaVinci Resolve Studio 16 with the camera. Yet, is it a camera for me, the independent documentary filmmaker?

Here is a real life scenario that I encountered almost a year ago: I’m about to leave to India and shoot a short documentary under our “camera review umbrella” featuring an Indian wedding. At the time, I was able to choose between the new Canon EOS R, or the BMPCC 4K. I know that in terms of picture quality the BMPCC 4K will beat the Canon EOS R hands down, but, I also know that as a one-man-band operator I might be struggling capturing the moments I need with the BMPCC 4K. Filming in such a demanding real-world environment is anyway not easy, so dealing with large amount of data/power consumption/focusing issues was not an option for me.

And this is what I want to avoid, the hesitation of using a camera because of the possibility of limiting myself on the operational side. I hope my point is clear, and I also hope that Blackmagic Design (under the leadership of their visionary Grant Petty) can move forward by eventually creating a camera that keeps ALL the technical achievements of the BMPCC 6K but, add extended usability to it.

In our third part of our BMPCC 6K coverage we will share our technical findings related to the camera’s dynamic range, latitude and rolling shutter effect results with you. Stay tuned.

A special thanks to Katharina and Theresa Teschler. More information about their ridding school can be found by clicking here.

Music for the above video is courtesy of MusicVine. Get 25% off your next music license with code C5D25 (valid for one use per customer).

Color by Lutify.me

What do you think about the new BMPCC 6K? Do you have any plans taking a closer look at it? Please share your thoughts with us below. 

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Nic
Nic
Guest
November 11th, 2019

I absolutely disagree with ibis on a “Cinema” camera. Ibis is gawd-awful when it cant keep up and that’s majority of times for me and quite a bit of footage I see on the internet. 25% of my cam collection has ibis and its all for photography. It’s sad that establishments like you who have much clout with camera companies who can put silly ideas like this ibis in their minds for them to implement it on future cams. Warp stabilizer will never fix ibis mis-shots. “Good enough” is not good enough for “cinema” cameras, especially when they’re trying to perfect IQ as each cam release and why would they want to f*ck up that IQ? because of “idealists” like you who want lazy ibis portraying as “not wanting to attract attention”. Let’s add ibis to a jello bowl of a rolling shutter for best IQ. lmao.
Other than that, thank you for your review.

 Robert Mead
Robert Mead
Member
September 8th, 2019

I know this slightly off topic but, can someone advise on what RRS base plate is being used in the photo of the rig above? It’s very difficult to get answers on “Universal” RRS plates for the BMPCC 4k/6k.

 Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall
Member
August 26th, 2019

“To my knowledge, no other editing platform can currently support Blackmagic RAW, with the exception of Adobe Premiere Pro.” Lightworks integrated BRAW editing within a week of it being announced.

 Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall
Member
August 26th, 2019

“A modern short flange lens mount would have allowed users to easily adapt many of the (EF) lenses we already (or still) have, or, in some cases, even use a Metabones Speed Booster to get an even wider field-of-view, which would give this camera with an APS-C sensor full-frame image aesthetics.” IMO, this was a retrograde step and exactly the reason why I will not buy this camera.

 Arun Kanth
Arun Kanth
Member
August 25th, 2019

In you article / review you said shooting at 2.8 k gives you a 3x crop ? Does it mean I will lose a heavy field of view like 24mm becomes 72mm ?? Really worried if I can get wide shots if I shoot with 2.8k ? Does the 3x crop even while shooting 24fps or only at high FPS ? Pl. clarify. Very confused. Holding me back from buying it. Thanks

 Paul Szilard
Paul Szilard
Member
August 24th, 2019

Great overview of the camera! The EVF is a simple addition for me, as is a good size external battery and large SSD storage. I would probably shoot it at 4k Pro Res and just enjoy the sensor and features and think that the 6k is giving me a little more future proofing, although I realise that the technology is moving fast. Too bad that all this for me is just day dreaming, as a self funded guy they are totally out of my price range and I am quite happy shooting on my Fujifilm X-T3 and a wide choice of non-cinema Fuji X lenses and the odd adapted Canon or Nikon. (I can’t afford the Fuji MK zooms either – feel free to send me some donations!)

I think you should do a more in depth review of the X-T3, as I think it has great potential, with APS-C sensor, Eternal film sim, hybrid log gamma and f-log, and being able to be power via USB-C. Even the audio pre-amps are acceptable and I use mine coupled to 2x Rode WirelessGO receivers fed through a Boya BY-MP4.

 Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Funky Punky Monkey Junk
Member
August 23rd, 2019

“a Metabones Speed Booster to get an even wider field-of-view, which would give this camera with an APS-C sensor full-frame image aesthetics.”

Why do you want full-frame image aesthetics? This is a motion-picture camera, so don’t you want cinema aesthetics? Full-frame entails overly shallow DOF and very fussy focusing, which is troublesome on any camera but especially so on a small camera like this that is liable to be in motion much of the time and doesn’t have auto focus.

While I agree with the point about flange distance versatility, what mount would you have preferred? The lens market is indeed a mess now that Canon introduced a new mount but put it on cameras with pathetic video capabilities.

EF is the only thing approaching a cross-platform standard that we have between Micro 4/3 and PL, isn’t it?

 Craig Marshall
Craig Marshall
Member
August 26th, 2019

IMO, the obvious lens mount would have been MFT but with an S35 sensor. JVC did it quite some time ago. With this mount, you could use FF lenses directly or add a focal reducer (AKA Speed Booster) to restore their original FF FoV if desired.

Member
August 23rd, 2019

Johnnie thank you for the article!

Could you share your experience using the EVF with the camera, as it is a necessary addition imo to work it as a cinema camera. Did you had any issues mounting, connecting it to the camera or any lag in the output?

Thanks.

Miltos PAVLOU
Member
August 23rd, 2019

Wow! Once again a great short doc by Johnnie!
Focussing and handling/lack of IBIS seem to be the major setback issues and next major development needs for BM..
Let’s hope GP will listen to you (made me watch again your 2017 interview of GP :)
Many thanks mate!!

note: any plans for ‘anamorfaking’ with this camera for the 3rd part of the review?

PS. and our next family trip for kids’ horse riding is set!

Elijah
Elijah
Member
August 23rd, 2019

I think the EF mount was a good choice when there are only a few RF mount lenses available currently. Also A User-Swappable, Non-Destructive, PL mount modification is available called the Bezamod P6K for the camera. So really you can use EF or PL lenses.

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/cliftonstommel/pocket-6k-pl-mount/description

You also forgot to mention LucAdaptors MagicBooster for this camera which will seriously beef up the cameras capability.

With the rate of improvements in LCD display technology I think EVFs will become outdated soon. You could also just get a sun hood for the display in bright conditions anyway. think Blackmagic are considering usability a lot by creating BRAW to deal with the data and power consumption. This is as well as USB-C connectivity and allowing the pocket 6k to use Canon lenses with in body stabilisation. This really avoids the issues of having no IBIS in the camera body as its in the lenses you use. The camera does seem to perform really well in low light from initial tests just like the pocket 4k (probably better than the 4k). The Blackmagic pocket 6k is like an electric car is true. This is the reality of living in the world of today with all things tech related.

Elijah
Elijah
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

You are probably right but I won’t underestimate the rapid development going on in LCD and OLED displays. I’m just glad the ability to use Canon lenses IS exists thanks to the chosen EF lens mount (this was probably a consideration when deciding on a useful lens mount).

I hope to see a follow up review once the MagicBooster is available ;)

Member
August 22nd, 2019

“……..give me a good EVF instead of a huge LCD and make me happy!” AMEN!!!

David Gurney
David Gurney
Guest
May 26th, 2020
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Maybe, but it seems that people just never learn. The screen on the original BMCC and BMPC was absolutely useless outdoors, as this one undoubtedly is too. So why even have a screen on a camera at this point? It would’ve been smarter and probably more power-efficient to give it an EVF, and let people buy a lightweight external screen if that’s what they insist on.

Which raises the question: Can you turn the screen off on this thing to save power?

 Scotty Carlson
Scotty Carlson
Member
August 22nd, 2019

How do you modify the back of the Canon 24mm EF-S F2.8 pancake lens to fit the EF Mount? Is there an article that shows the process?

 Scotty Carlson
Scotty Carlson
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Thanks Johnnie. I feel like that 24mm pancake lens is a great combo with the bmpcc 6k.

 Abe Halpert
Abe Halpert
Member
August 22nd, 2019

Thanks for the info – looking forward to the tests

 Manuel Manuel
Manuel Manuel
Member
August 22nd, 2019

Thanks for this article, as always. And thank you for the SIGMA piece: that was super! Nevertheless, It seems to me that the footage I saw in the previous Cinema 5D post, the one coming from the Z cam E2 is VASTLY SUPERIOR, don’t you think? The Z cam looks way more organic than BM, aslo in terms of highlight roll off. Is it my impression?

Elijah
Elijah
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Manuel Manuel

You really don’t get a superior image. The pocket 6k outshines the RED cameras and is comparable to Arri footage just without the signature color. With Z cam you don’t get a proper camera anyway? You get a box.

Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Elijah

Huh? I’ve seen nothing from blackmagic cameras that are in the same ballpark as Arri. You can make down grade Arri footage to look like BM, but not the other way round. This is a great camera for the price but the footage I’ve seen so far is er great value for the price…

Elijah
Elijah
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Rogue Bison

Blackmagic footage from the pocket 6k works seamlessly with Arri footage. It really is magical. It is great value for money. Check this out:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ynhjKaTgLf4&t=328s

 Tom Roper
Tom Roper
Member
August 24th, 2019
Reply to  Manuel Manuel

I don’t agree.

Member
August 22nd, 2019

Hi Johnnie, I truly enjoy the articles from the other writers at Cinema5D, but when I see your name on the top of the post I always feel, its a lucky day! :) Thanks very much for your info about this amazing camera and of course, well done Blackmagic Design!

 Tom Roper
Tom Roper
Member
August 24th, 2019
Reply to  Johnnie Behiri

Love your camera work, as always.

 Asaf Blasberg
Asaf Blasberg
Member
August 22nd, 2019

Excellent post. Thank you! One thing regarding H264/H265 – I own a DVX200 and while I’m not a fan of these codecs because they are very difficult to edit, unfortunately it comes down to file sizes. As a videographer who films concerts and sometimes day long events, filming at 4K 24p at just 100mbps is a dream for me, even though it is just 4:2:0 8bit. It’s just that the file sizes add up so quickly, file storage is a huge concern for me.

Don’t get me wrong, I love ProRes so much better but the file sizes are huge compared to H264/H265. So yeah, i realize I’m compromising quality :( What do you guys think?

 Kieran Olsson
Kieran Olsson
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Asaf Blasberg

At least I’d you had the ProRes option you could use that for shorter projects which you want to be higher quality :)

Elijah
Elijah
Member
August 23rd, 2019
Reply to  Asaf Blasberg

Yeah ProRes definitely wouldn’t be able to handle this quality of 6k footage. Makes sense why they give you 6k BRAW.

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